Oso Raro has an awesome post about the gap between faculty and student life professionals here. It comes at a good time because this week I had a rare encounter with that side of the university. I got an email last Friday that so-and-so, head of some series of services , wanted to meet with me about room use. It was all very vague but I figured that as department chair, it’s a good idea to take meetings with people from other parts of my university when asked. This Wednesday I headed up to the Student Services Building, a very nice and very large building which I had never even entered or noticed for that matter, despite the fact that I pass by it about once a week if not more (it’s on the way from my office to Thomson House, the grad student union). The building looks great, which is probably important since parents need to feel like the university’s in good shape when they enter it and students need to feel like the place cares when they have a problem. I headed up to the Dean of Students office, where my colleague was located, and marveled at all the things that go on in the building about which I know absolutely nothing, but which I remember as being important from my undergrad days.
The meeting involved the possibility of using some space adjacent to the space being used by my department in a new annex (this part isn’t very interesting but it was also very quick). My colleague apologized for calling me over for a meeting “oh my god, I could have just picked up the phone, I’m sure you’re very busy. I’m sorry for wasting your time.” But of course then we got to talking. She’s new to the university and very quickly we identified that we cared about some of the same things in terms of how the institution works and how it might change. I was struck at that moment that progressive faculty probably have a whole group of allies in this other wing of the university of whom we don’t even know to avail ourselves. Having once worked in academic advising, I, at least, should know better.